Why a Game?
Treating business as if it were a game was not our way of trivializing business. Rather, it was a way to explain business in the most simple and unintimidating way possible, get everyone on the same “playing field” and tap into the universal human desire to win.
In 1983, SRC didn’t have a choice; there was no money, no resources and little hope for the company to survive. Everyone had to learn the game of business, or it was game over. Jack Stack, a green manager at the time, realized that they could teach business through the analogy of a game. Business has all the elements of a game: rules, a scorecard, a reward for winning. The purpose of playing The Game was to save jobs. The result was a company that not only saved jobs, but also created wealth and shared that wealth with the entire team.
Here’s how The Great Game works:
The Principles & Practices of The Great Game of Business
Know & Teach The Rules
- Business Transparency & Education: Opening the Books only works when people are taught to understand them, which is best done both formally and informally.
- High Involvement Planning: When The Game is created with broad participation – specifically the people who are closest to the action and who understand the realities – it creates a level of commitment and alignment that just can’t be matched.
- The Critical Number: This is the financial or operational number that defines winning. When correctly identified through High Involvement Planning, targeted and tied to a reward, the Critical Number becomes the focus of the Game for everyone in the organization.
Follow the Action & Keep Score
- Keep Score: There’s an old saying, “If you’re not keeping score, it’s only practice.” The objective of keeping score is to simply and consistently inform the players if they are winning or losing, and who is accountable.
- Follow the Action: Huddles provide a rhythm of communication where everyone is kept informed, involved and engaged in moving the company forward.
- Forward Forecasting: You can’t change history. Forecasting is the fundamental way GGOB companies communicate the numbers and create forward-looking, educational and results-oriented huddles.
Provide a Stake in the Outcome
- Rewards, Recognition: All who directly participate in strengthening the company likely do so because they have some form of a stake in the outcome. They come to work to win, because they know their work will result in significant reward, recognition and ownership in the outcome.
- MiniGames: Short term, intensely focused, rapid improvement campaigns that affect a change, correct a weakness or pursue an opportunity. Like the big Game, there is a goal, a scoreboard and a reward for winning.
- Ownership: Not all companies who play the Game can or will share equity, nor is it a guarantee of success. But getting employees to think and act like owners is one of the most powerful things any leader can do to create measurable and sustainable success in any organization.